Narrative construction, like essay-writing, generally begins with a thesis or a script. There's some sort of concept that will be developed, and mnemonic proof texts will be brought forward to support whatever hypothesis the mind has settled on. Several classics come immediately to mind:
1. The Conversion Narrative: After a religious conversion, the person often goes back into her past and finds the evidence of God acting in silence before she knew that He was there. 2. The “Born Gay” Narrative: The gay-identified man reaches into his childhood for evidence of early SSA. (There's actually a lesbian writer who re-wrote her autobiography after the gay-gene hypothesis mainstreamed, in order to more cleanly dovetail her recollections with that theory.) 3. The Hand of Fate Narrative: A person imagines that he is fated to fulfill a particular great role, and seeks signs and portents in the past which indicate his future glory. 4. The Emotional Abuse Narrative: After a divorce, a woman comes to construe her entire marriage as a series of degradations, manipulations and delusions. Obviously, we could multiply this list more or less infinitely, and there are countless private variations. The point is that the data of the past is organized in order to fit the psychological purposes of the present, and in order to create a coherent story that locates the individual within a teleological framework that provides life with meaning.
Psychoanalysis is basically the art of helping people to construct productive and useful narratives. The anchoring illusion of objectivity provided by the scientific metanarrative bolsters the feeling that a person is discovering the “truth” about him or herself, and this gives the process additional authority, and therefore additional psychic force. When a psychologist goes delving around in a person's childhood to find the “cause” of their present sufferings, what they're actually doing is finding evidence that will help the person to build up a coherent narrative to explain present problems. By establishing a series of archetypal struggles and images, the psychologist is able to provide the patient with a means of resolving their suffering by symbolically or actually defeating whatever bogeymen get summoned up to fulfill the role of the antagonist. So, for example, if someone “discovers” that their insecurities are the “result” of an over-critical mother, they can then find a way to reconcile with, or stand up to, or otherwise confront the spectre of that mother. If done properly, this confrontation will bring relief, and the insecurity will begin to subside.
The difficulty is that the therapist has to present a narrative that the patient is able to accept and believe in. Reparative therapy has several such narratives on tap: the “father wound”, the “sports wound”, “peer-rejection”, etc. These childhood origin stories purport to explain SSA, and to be fair, I have encountered some people for whom they are able to fulfill this role. However, as Eve Tushnet puts it, “there are all kinds of cases where family dynamics don't explain very much. And honestly--family dynamics are often a reductive and boring explanation for homosexuality.” To me, this really sums it up: the narrative of healing that Nicolosi and company put forward is boring. It's not that I can't find evidence to support it if I go rooting around in my past, it's that if this is the archetypal journey that I'm being asked to undertake then I can't be bothered. Neither the villain nor the prize is sufficiently interesting to justify the quest.